Candles, Contexts and Molotov Cocktails

 Prayer and Prophecy: The Essential Kenneth Leech edited by David Bunch and Angus Ritchie

A reader on the East-End, Anglo-Catholic, Christian Socialist, Drug Rehabilitation theologies of Kenneth Leech.

“We should not seek to bring Christ into our lives, but to enter ourselves into his.”  The question repeatedly asked by Leech is if Christ really is to be found among the outcasts and the overlooked then what does worship mean for the mainstream and established churches of the Western nations, and the coastal suburbs?

I had never heard of Kenneth Leech before I read this book, despite my having spent six years of Sundays worshipping in his London mission field of Soho.  I feel as though I have found, and yet missed meeting, a friend.  His work promotes him as more Roman in his Englishness than I was, yet his socialist, social heart beats to the same rhythm as my own.  Kenneth Leech is an enigma; equally at home Trotsky as with St John of the Cross he is both a robed and incense-clouded liturgist found in the highest of churches, an earthy and incensed rehab worker found in the dodgiest of dives, and a social commentator and theologian found in the worthiest of colleges, in the one fiery package.

Prayer and Prophecy covers forty years of Leech’s writing and thinking on theology, politics, and spirituality in easy to follow and exciting to read passages.  He speaks of a socially responsible, socially engaged gospel in a language drawn from within the beauty of holiness.  His cry is for the worshipping church to become the prophetic voice to our nation once more.

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